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State approves help with lead testing for Colorado schools

May 11, 2017 Updated: May 11, 2017 at 10:47 am
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House Bill 1306 puts up $300,000 a year for schools to test their drinking water. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Lawmakers got the lead out in the final hours of the session. (Come on, I couldn't let that go.) They passed a bill to help school systems pay for testing to see if their drinking water has lead in it.

House Bill 1306 puts up $300,000 a year for schools to test their water, by putting up a 10 percent local match. The oldest schools get the highest priority.

Seven of Colorado's 178 school districts have tested their water for lead, and 100 schools discovered lead. The toxic metal can affect organs, the nervous system and reproductive system, as well as affect brain function.

"It's a great thing we can do for education and our kids' future." Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement.

"Testing is a good thing and I'm grateful this bipartisan bill will help to ensure safer drinking water for our children," added the bill's other House sponsor, Tony Exum Sr., D-Colorado Springs.

Passage of the bill was applauded by education ahd public health officials.

Brian Turner, president of the Colorado Public Health Association, said clea\n water in schools should be broadly supported.

"As a public health professional, but more importantly as a parent, I'm happy to see our state moving in the right direction for our kids' safety," he said

Kerrie Dallman, president of the Colorado Education Association, said underfunded schools needed the help.

"We appreciate our legislators for stepping forward with funding to help older schools meet the challenge of providing safe learning conditions for their students," she said in a statement.

Conservation Colorado, the state's largest such organization, called environmental safety a human right.

"We're thrilled that legislators from both sides of the aisle stood up for Colorado kids and will help keep them safe from lead pollution," Kristin Green, Conservation Colorado's water advocate.

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